At a time when businesses and entire industries are struggling to keep their workers employed and weather an indefinite economic storm, partisan and ideological special interest groups are trying to use the unprecedented public health crisis to achieve their long-standing wish list of big government programs.
With the media stretched thin covering the coronavirus pandemic, Democrats can skirt under the radar of most journalists to pass big government policies. For example, they padded the stimulus bill—known as the CARES Act—with pork, handing $25 million for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (still lower than the $35 Pelosi wanted). But in the end, after securing the money, the Kennedy Center announced that it would still fire 96 of its musicians and furlough almost a thousand employees.
Democrats awarded other allies as well. They included a gag order on mid-sized businesses that receive loans under the stimulus bill. In what appears as a violation of the spirit of the First Amendment, businesses have to remain neutral when unions attempt to organize their employees. Union bosses had been pushing for this policy for years. But unionization efforts amid the temporary recession could accelerate job losses and business closures. Even left-wing companies that support unions, like progressive media network The Young Turks, are terrified that unionization could sink them.
As additional relief packages are likely to continue, other liberal groups are using this crisis to their advantage while peddling disinformation online. The Repair Association, which is closely aligned with Ralph Nader’s liberal advocacy group PIRG, is pushing for legislation that would hurt American manufacturers and force them to reveal their proprietary software. With global supply chains disrupted and the coronavirus pandemic revealing the vulnerabilities of offshoring manufacturing, liberals should be protecting domestic manufacturers, especially considering the few that remain have converted their plants to produce essential medical equipment, like masks.
Meanwhile, other liberal groups have spread scientifically unproven claims—including that there is a connection between vaping and the coronavirus. While the FDA and CDC have made no conclusive statements, that hasn’t stopped Democrats like Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gretchen Whitmer from repeating their talking points, and the House Oversight committee even attempted to shut down vape shops, causing even more economic pain for small businesses.
Democrats, particularly members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and their left-wing allies like MoveOn.org, are already stating their demands for the next round of coronavirus relief. This includes pushing for widespread vote-by-mail for the November election, even though the phase three bill already provided $400 million in election security grants. These grants can be used by the states to expand vote-by-mail efforts and early voting, and can also be allocated to clean polling locations and conduct public education efforts.
It has been disappointing, but unfortunately not surprising, that Democrats have allowed left-wing special interest groups to use a pandemic to achieve their big government agenda. As more government spending occurs to combat this crisis, let’s make sure we are paying close attention to what’s in these bills, as their policies will have long-term consequences that will outlast the coronavirus crisis.
Jesse Grady is a former staff member of President Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign and a former Regional Field Director for the Texas GOP.